Football - Liga

Atletico CEO issues stark warning over La Liga TV rights

The future of La Liga is under threat unless wealthy and dominant Real Madrid and Barcelona agree a more equitable distribution of income from television rights, according to Atletico Madrid chief executive Miguel Angel Gil.

 
Atletico fire cash warning - Football - LigaAFP
 

"We want a league that is solvent and competitive," Gil said on Atletico's website (www.clubatleticodemadrid.com).

"To achieve that, it is fundamental that the gap in budgets and revenues is narrowed and that there is a fairer distribution of (cash from) TV rights," he added.

"Only in that way can a more just, more competitive and more attractive league be achieved.

"Atletico, like the rest of the clubs, will do everything in its power to defend its interests. The future of our football is at stake."

Analysts have long argued that Spain needs to adopt a system of collective bargaining and income distribution for TV rights, similar to those used in rival European leagues.

More clubs will follow Real Zaragoza, Real Betis, Racing Santander and others into administration unless something is done, they warn.

Thanks to their lucrative deals, Real and Barca gobble up about half the annual pot of TV revenue of around 600 million euros ($740.40 million) which helps make them the world's richest clubs by income and means they can buy and pay the best players while their Spanish peers watch in envy.

Despite pressure from their La Liga rivals, Spain's big two have shown little signs they are prepared to give up their dominant position.

A recent collective deal struck by the English Premier League, which will boost revenue by 70 percent over three years, makes it even less likely they will accept change, analysts have said.

The situation has been complicated by a legal battle between broadcasters Mediapro and Canal+ over who owns the rights to show matches and with two weeks to go before the start of the season a solution appears remote.

"The atmosphere of confrontation, both between the two broadcasters and the clubs, may not only bring about the breakup of the league but also the bankruptcy of the clubs," Gil said.

"Because there is no ordered economic model for exploiting TV rights the clubs have to wait until just before the championship begins to see if the broadcasters can agree.

"The uncertainty, right up to the last minute, means it's impossible to set out any social, sporting, commercial or economic strategy for the club."

Real and Barca did not immediately respond to emails seeking reaction to Gil's comments.

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